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Gary Neville has opened about his four months managing Valencia, recalling an occasion in which Cristiano Ronaldo described his tactics as a “disgrace”.
The Manchester United legend and then-England assistant coach endured a difficult period at the Spanish club, winning only three of his 16 league games.
However, one highlight of his time managing on the continent was the 2-2 draw with Real Madrid in January 2016, during which Valencia had the chance to snatch all three points due to Los Blancos being down to ten men.
Neville outlined the tactics which enraged Ronaldo that day on Sky Sports’ Off Script podcast, saying: “The 2-2 draw with Real Madrid, where we almost won it late on, was an incredible night. Rafa Benitez was Madrid manager and that was his last game before he got sacked.
Neville felt Ronaldo's wrath at Valencia
(Image: EMPICS Sport)
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“What I remember most about that game was our tactic of leaving the grass really long and we didn't water the pitch so the ball wouldn't travel as quick, in the hope of slowing down Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
“It was like a farmer's field. Cristiano came over to me before the game and said: ‘It's a disgrace, cut the pitch!’ – I said absolutely no chance. There was no way he was dribbling that night.”
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Despite Neville’s pride in his tactics, Ronaldo registered the assist for Karim Benzema’s opener and Bale scored late on, but the match was no-doubt a high point for Neville’s managerial career.
Dani Parejo equalised for the hosts just before half-time, while Mateo Kovacic was sent off for a reckless tackle early in the second half.
Bale looked to have earned Real Madrid a late win with his 82nd-minute header, but Paco Alcacer denied Benitez’s side the three points by scoring just one minute later as Neville picked up his third point as Valencia manager.